Blog Post

Caught in the Wake of Apple’s Press Events

After each Apple (s aapl) press event, there is a visible track of turbulence online, in the technology market and on Wall Street that some cannot help but get caught within. There is no denying that when Apple decides to head in a particular direction, it will lead. And all that is left for the rest of us to decide is whether or not we will follow or get out-of-the-way.

When you continually take such wide strides in innovation, intentional or unintentional, there will always be casualties. In 2010 alone, Apple held no less than five major media events that in some way affected the way markets were defined and revenues were earned for a significant number of companies.

Dead or Dying Already

This year we have witnessed the fall of HP’s Slate that Microsoft CEO Steve Balmer introduced at CES, a massive shift in consumer purchasing behavior in the netbook market and media moguls struggle with the hard decision between propping up traditional print or adopting newer digital technologies. When it comes to development platforms, Steve was more than willing to speak out and share his thoughts on the subject, while evidence continues to mount that he was right about Adobe Flash on mobile devices. With just one of two new lenses, two consumer markets were affected: the digital snapshot camera and the handheld HD video recorder. I loved my Flip Mino HD video recorder (past tense). With HD video recording capabilities, on-device editing, and the ability to share instantly online, the justification for a separate Flip video recording device just did not make sense any more.

September 2010 Media Event

There is a reason the entire tech industry pauses a moment to see what Steve will say next at these major press events. Many are holding their breath to see if their bottom line will be affected in either a positive or a negative manner. Every time Steve talks, things change. And yesterday’s event was no different. In many ways, the latest media event from Apple will shake more things up than any previous media event yet this year.

Multi-Room Entertainment Systems: AirPlay has some pretty big names backing it including Denon, Marantz, B&W, JBL and iHome. Simply having the ability to stream music simultaneously to multiple rooms could add some serious competition to products like the Sonos Music System, Bose SoundLink, Yamaha MusicCast and Klipsch LightSpeaker to name a few. Apple is potentially cannibalizing its own product by competing with the presently available AirTunes capability of the AirportExpress.

Print Apps in App Store: So what will happen to the sale of printing apps now that Apple will support printing on the iPad? Until we see exactly how printing will work, it is hard to say at this point. But rest assured that consumers’ willingness to pay a premium for specialized printing abilities will be at a minimum. Currently there are more than a dozen apps for the iPad that can print. Many of these are currently priced anywhere from $4.99 to $9.99. These price points will likely drop, as will support for some of the apps simply because the market will shift in this category.

HDR Apps in App Store: Just as the 5.0 MP camera that Apple introduced with the iPhone 4 has likely cut into the sales of casual point and shoot digital cameras, updating the on board camera app supplied with each iPhone will undoubtedly affect the sales of HDR Apps. This includes wonderful Apps like HDR Camera, TrueHDR and Pro HDR. I have tried these apps and I must say that the when the camera is held steady, the results are stunning.

Roku and Boxee media Devices: While the new Apple TV is not revolutionary, the price point sure is. At the magical price point of just $99, it will be hard for any household with iPads, iPhones, iPods and iMacs to refuse. Especially when this device will make it easier than ever to view all of the memories captured, organized and edited with each of those iPads, iPhones, iPods and iMacs. If Apple would ever decide to make MobileMe free to Apple customers again, this one time cost would be easy to justify. Devices like Roku and Boxee now have some serious competition to contend with.

Everyone wants to lead, but just how far out in front is Apple? Can any company, including Google, have as dramatic of an impact across the entire technology industry, each and every time they decide to have their CEO invite the media over for a chat? In fact, it may be a good idea to check with Steve before you make any sudden moves in the tech industry.

So how has Apple affected your life in 2010?

7 Responses to “Caught in the Wake of Apple’s Press Events”

  1. Currently for AirTunes to work, I can only have one Mac supporting one or more Airport Express devices. If multiple Airport Express devices are being supported, they must all be playing the exact same song. I am also required to have a logged in use with iTunes up and running. It is this running instance of iTunes that is in control. I have attached a remote to my Airport Express, but all it did was control my iTunes on my Mac. I have two Airport Expresses in my house currently, and cannot send separate audio streams to each from one running iTunes instance. They both must play the same song a the same time.

    Focusing solely on one’s iTunes Library stored locally on a Mac, with AirPlay, it appears that the Apple TV will be able to control its own stream. More than just the ability to play, it will also have teh abilty to control. The present day Apple TV was in control of its own copy of an iTunes Music Library that it had synced locally. The new Apple TV will not have a local copy of anything. Whether or not this is just acting as a remote to a running iTunes application on a Mac, or if it behaves more like the relationship between a DLNA client and server is still unclear. Basically, what is the exact relationship between the new Apple TV and any iTunes Library? Can multiple Apple TVs access one iTunes Library and play separate media files? Does iTunes still need to be up and running in a logged on user account? I have one Apple TV on order, and look forward to finding out.

  2. No, AirPlay is AirTunes + streaming media from one device to another. AirTunes is streaming audio from a Mac -> Airport or Apple TV.

    An Apple TV can stream media from a Mac, but you couldn’t throw it from, say, your Mac to an Apple TV.

    • “No, AirPlay is AirTunes + streaming media from one device to another. AirTunes is streaming audio from a Mac -> Airport or Apple TV.

      An Apple TV can stream media from a Mac, but you couldn’t throw it from, say, your Mac to an Apple TV.”

      Sorry, but you are incorrect. AirPlay is Airtunes renamed with added support for video. It works from iTunes, iPhone, and iPad to compatible devices.

  3. “Apple is potentially cannibalizing its own product by competing with the presently available AirTunes capability of the AirportExpress.”

    Isn’t AirPlay just AirTunes renamed, with the addition of media types other than just Tunes. Were you trying to suggest that it might take away one of the main selling points of the AirPort Express?

    • Correct, a potential to create competition within it’s own product line. For the same price, consumers will have to choose between two solutions to distribute music in their homes. One will have the added ability to connect to a printer and act as a wireless extension of their network, while the other will have the added ability to stream video and have a rich menu driven user interface that can control the content it accesses. That is not to say that competing with itself will hurt sales of either product. They could end up complementing each other.

      • Thanks, that’s what I thought you were saying. The meaning wasn’t totally clear on first read.

        What I’m interested to see is if we will be able to stream from an iPad or iPhone to an AirPort Express (without owning an Apple TV). It feels like this should be possible, but it’s not been said explicitly. It’ll be interesting to see what the options are.